"If life challenges are a treasure, why do very few people desire it?"
I have heard often from my more spiritual friends that life's challenges and life's suffering don't have to be bad things, as we often think. No, the conventional manner of thinking is not that they are good things - but it is a thought process I've learned to embrace as the past year has gone on. I've recently explored a Bible plan titled, "Singing Through The Storm," a coping mechanism for dealing with the metaphor of being in the storm, being in the peak and middle of life's suffering. What drew me to this plan, in particular, was author Kelli Horn's blurb that, "What counts in life is not what happens to us, but how we respond to it."
So how do we respond? We sing.
It is part of the human condition to feel pain and suffer, and to feel like it's not easy. Even Kelli says that "I hate the pain, but I have to accept that in order to experience the future blessings." But she goes on to say that "life challenges are actually one of life's 'best kept secrets.' if you change your perspective and learn to respond wisely to it." At the end of the day, Kelli notes that her sufferings and challenges are what make her a better person. That, after all, is what life is all about.
She goes on to note that the greatest treasure she has learned in the face of her sufferings is that "when we face life challenges, we must find a way not only to survive them, but in time, to actually grow from them. We must find a way to keep on keeping on, no matter how hard or painful life becomes." That is the purpose of singing, but how do we do it? How do we "sing through the storm, like never before"?
The best example in the scripture of how we can "keep on keeping on regardless of our emotions or circumstances" is the scene of Paul and Silas singing while imprisoned in a Philippian jail in Acts 16:25. While Paul and Silas were singing to God, there was an earthquake that rattled the jail and let all the prisoners escape, except two: Paul and Silas. The jailer, in discovering this, attempted to kill himself because he thought Paul and Silas had escaped. But they didn't escape. They keot singing and had unconditional joy in God, and stopped the jailer from killing himself. The jailer, struck by the joy of Paul and Silas, asked them, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"
No one knows what song they were singing. It's left ambiguous for a reason, I suppose, and if we have the ability to sing through our own storms, we should use the song that is the most meaningful for us. For me, it would be uncharacteristic and perhaps not all too Christian: I would sing My Chemical Romance's "Famous Last Words" that allow me to "keep on keeping on." Like Paul and Silas, I would sing each word passionately and graciously, and turn my sorrows and grief into the positive.
Music can often put into words a lot of emotions that we can't. Kelli tells us that "a song is worth a thousand antidepressants. Specific songs can comfort us, bring a smile to our face, cause us to be grateful, [and] challenge us to treat others with kindness." She urges us, in this plan, to choose three songs that are special to our hearts to listen to every day for several weeks. Kelli wants to encourage us to "to keep God, family, and growth in clear focus," even amidst the turmoil in our lives, even when we feel like we're wandering through the valley of the shadow of death, through hell.
So I implore you to find three songs that you know by heart, three songs that mean everything to you, and sing them. They won't magically fix things, but they can guide you through the storm.